The TERRIFIC Two’s – Behavior Modifications

Listen as I discuss with Paige Le Gault and Lindsey Burchfield, behavioral specialists from Parenting Practice CO, Behavior modifications in the terrific twos.

Episode Transcript:

Welcome back to first breaths to first steps. This is Bev Garrison. I am so lucky today to be joined with Paige and Lindsey parenting practice of Colorado. All three of us reside in Colorado. And I came to know these ladies that I like to refer to as the dynamic duo. Basically from Lindsay, she was a mom and my practice for years, I’ve helped to work with her family. Lindsey’s background- she is a sleep specialist trained by the sleep sense program and methodology and has been in practice, working with families for better sleep hygiene with her own company called Columbine sleep solutions. She met her dynamic duo partner Paige in sleep sense training. Before Paige met Lindsay she was teaching in early childhood field and had been a teacher for almost five years when she decided to make a change to support her students and families a little bit more, went back to school for her degree in family psychology to bridge the gap between teachers and parents.

Lindsey and Paige as I mentioned before met in their training and combine their forces to become what I like to call the dynamic duo of parenting practice of Colorado. So today we thought we would talk about the terrific twos and behavior management and toddlers. I would like to welcome both Paige and Lindsay today. Thank you guys for joining me Thank you for that. Thanks dad. Thanks so much for having us. We’re excited to be here. Both of these young ladies have a young family, and so they are in the game and know exactly all of these issues that moms are dealing with. But today we thought we talk about just behavior, things that come up with toddlers in particular temper tantrums, how to stop, always dreaded, biting and hitting as well as that struggle for brushing our teeth. I will turn it over to these ladies and we’re going to start off with how they look at best helping parents when they’re having difficulties with temper tantrums. Woo temper tantrums. They freak you out. Don’t they?

Let me tell you, they, they certainly do! Can ruin a grocery store trip or a vacation or just an afternoon. Yep. Temper tantrums are scary because we don’t really know what they’re going to blossom into each time they can look different. Do you feel that with Ry sometimes? Yes. 100%. You’re not really sure what will be. It can be something that’s quick or something that takes a little bit longer to deescalate. So yeah, I would agree. There is a variety of what a temper tantrum might look like.

My best tip for tantrums, whether they’re quick and easy or the 45 minutes long haul is to just be present with your child and not take an authoritarian view on them of , you must stop and listen to me, but more of I’m here. If you need me, your feelings are valid, but I’m still gonna set the limit with you. Whatever because of tantrum. No, you can’t have piece of cake for breakfast and work through it with them. And then when it’s over, that’s when you can teach them, instead of trying to teach them why they can’t have the cake, when they’re screaming bloody murder at you.

I feel like there’s so many times in that situation where parents are like, wow, I just don’t know what to do. And I always remind them, they’re really not in your universe at this particular time. This is not the moment where parenting is going to turn on the dime and you’re going to get this child that’s completely conforming to what your expectation is. Yeah, I couldn’t agree with that more. I mean, I’ve definitely learned having a three-year-old we have tantrums . And I’ve definitely learned that the more you can just be present with them telling them you’re there listening to them. Saying the emotions that they’re going through, but yes, then telling them your hard boundary seems to work so much better than the moments in which I’ve tried to teach. Like you said, Paige, or even get a little bit angry myself. I’ve definitely found that’s the best way to handle a tantrum. And I’ve had a lot more success getting through them smoothly recently using that tactic than I did using other tactics before.

Yeah, I agree. I feel like when time outs or time ins as they’re called now, which it’s the same thing. But that can make them feel shame for that emotion or detached from their place in the family, or even that those emotions aren’t allowed specific people, a grandparent, a friend or dad or mom, and then that makes them isolated and it bubbles and bubbles and bubbles. And then you have every instance turns into this catastrophic event that didn’t need to be that way.

Right Paige, can you go into a little bit more about that thought process behind what is timeout and what is time in? I think we use those terms or those phrases pretty frequently in coaching parents, but I think sometimes parents are like, I’m not really sure what she’s talking about. I know about time out, but I’m not necessarily sure about what they mean when they say time in.

Yeah timeout is where we have the child leave us and they’re separated and they’re either on a step in another room or they’re contained to another room. We close the door and we leave. Time in would be where we would sit with the child on the step and try to chat with them and work with them while they’re having that experience.

Having a time in you take the child during the tantrum to a new environment, stay with them, lessens that pressure. It moves that energy around enough, so they might settle. And other times they feel that force of being moved and they can just lock in even harder.

You really have to be particular about what your child is going to respond to and know, okay. If I close the door on them and I leave, they’re going to panic, and this is going to just be way worse. Or if I move them, they’re going to panic and it’s going to be way worse. So those types of things you have to feel out on your own and assessment works best.

I hardly ever see time outs work. Hardly ever, especially the older they get. Right. Lindsey, what would you say is your experience with timeout and time in with your kids at the age that they’re at? Yeah. So I have to agree with Paige that timeouts have not worked in my favor. And they definitely don’t work with Riley.

Jack is not at the age yet where I’ve had to use that type of a tactic, but with. Time out. This does not work with her. So I have found that if anything does work that time in would more so work for her also, she’s a kind of person that has to sometimes just process alone without anybody there with her as well.

There are moments in which, we have a blow up tantrum of some sort. My go-to is always to recognize her feelings, her emotions. And then I just need to give her the space to deescalate on her own and that tends to work the best for us. And then, so yeah, timeouts is not something that I have used and it seems to not work well for me.

And the one or two times that I have tried it. Right. I think in my years of practice with pediatric patients, I. I have also kind of reversed and kind of set that theory upon parents, that sometimes you, as the parent need to take a break out of that situation and walk away. So whether you call that a timeout or a time in just because that child is not ready in that moment to really be.

Taking any sort of instruction or direction, and it also helps you as a parent to kind of calm down, bring it down a bit and think about what’s best in this moment. It’s always, I feel like better to be parenting, not out of anger, but more when you’re. Thought processes reasonable as well. When you have a child kicking, screaming, laying on the ground and rolling around in a conniption, it’s hard for you to focus as an adult, let alone.

Someone that’s young like that. So sometimes I remind parents that sometimes it’s good for you to kind of walk away from the situation for a brief second, gather your thoughts, gather what’s important to you, and then try to go back and address that. Yeah, I definitely agree. And I think until you reach that age with your own child and experience a tantrum, you don’t know really how to prepare because you don’t know what’s going to trigger your own emotional processing.

Maddie, my daughter, isn’t old enough to have tantrums, but I definitely know when there’s a specific cry that it changes how I respond to her as an all mamas. So imagine a three-year-old turning into the toddler and you not knowing how to process that. So having that out is a nice safety net to collect yourself and then to return.

To collect your baby. Right. You know, my babies, as I’ve said before, our 20, 19 and 17, but I have been the mom that has left a cart full of groceries in the middle of aisle four. Like we’ve got to go both you and I meaning my child need to leave this situation and revisit it later.

So Paige and Lindsay, what do you guys think, or what are your helpful tips for when parents are experiencing problems with hitting or biting in their toddlers? What sort of behavioral tools do you think are helpful in that situation? that’s a good question. And I think it’s really common, especially once they hit that 18 month range when they’re trying to talk and they maybe can’t, so they use their hands or their mouth. I think if we want to stop a negative behavior, we start to say the things that they’re doing with that body part, those hands that we do, like, oh, you were so kind holding the door open for me today. Thank you. Or you gave me a high five. That was gentle. Thank you. Things like that. Reverse it instead of saying, oh, don’t hit. They don’t hear the don’t. They just hear the hit. Language manipulation is truly what it is. Flipping that situation.

Biting is interesting because I think it has a lot to do with development as well. If a child has a strong oral fixation, they might not be realizing, Hey, it doesn’t feel good to bite your teacher. They might just need to gnaw on something depending on how old they are. But it could also transition into behavior as intentional, right. I’m frustrated. So I need to bite something that feels good to me. If they’re young enough and it isn’t oral fixation over behavior, offering them something they can bite on or something that we draw their attention to their hands to get another sensation, going to replace the behavior we don’t want.

If it is that frustrated behavior and they are. Why can they not express their language? Are they having frustration with that? Do we need to seek out a pediatrician’s advice for that? Is it transitional issues? Do they always bite going into the lunchroom? Actually looking at the core root of why that biting is going on and fixing that instead of no don’t bite biting is naughty, right? Lindsey. Have you had either of those issues biting, hitting with Riley or anything in her classroom or her exposure? Luckily, no, we haven’t experienced that to date. So hitting or biting from her hasn’t occurred and yeah, luckily we haven’t seen that yet in the classroom setting either. So I would say that it’s probably a little bit of a blessing.

Right. I do think that we both bring up some good points in the fact that hindsight is 2020, right. You look back and you’re like, well, that’s probably what frustrated my child into that type of behavior. I do always try to counsel parents in, look back at the situation, see if there’s a pattern that’s causing that type of frustration to evoke that behavior, to see if there’s something that you can counteract beforehand or do preventatively to set that child up for success.

It’s a really hard concept, especially with a toddler, because sometimes we’re more we’re working or they’re in daycare and they’re not with us. So we don’t really fully understand the situation. That’s getting them frustrated or driving them towards a behavior that maybe we don’t necessarily want to encourage.

Really dialoguing in trying to figure out with parents, like what happened the. 30 seconds before that incident is super helpful, but a very difficult timeframe to identify for parents. Something good to coach upon, especially if it’s behavior that’s repeated.

A little bit Paige to what we talk about a lot in our sleep world. Watching your child investigating your child, simply seeing how they’re reacting to certain things. Good and or bad, but actually watching your children react is one of the most insightful things I think you can do in a parent because it allows you to truly meet their needs because you know them. It’s true with babies when we’re teaching them to sleep. And I think has become even more true with my toddler and being able to understand how she wants to be treated, how she wants to interact with us. And what’s important with her and driving emotion in her. It’s just so important as parents to make sure we’re always watching our children, seeing , what and how they react to certain things.

Yeah, completely. Yeah. I think too, that there’s always that question of whether or not, why are they seeking that type of reaction or that sort of input that they get from us? They know, wow. If I hit my sibling, if I bite my sibling, It evokes a certain response in my parent that you Paige, I think you mentioned beforehand, it’s kind of nice to talk in those terms of when kids are doing well and giving those words of praise, because I really do feel like most kids, their heart is genuine and they really do want to please you.

But if you’ve spent the whole day chasing bad behavior, that’s the only way that they’re getting feedback or input. And so I always try to charge parents. I’m like try to find at least two to three things that this child has done well throughout the day. And trust me, even in my own world, I’m like, yeah, there’s not one thing I can find that that child has done right for me today.

But even if it’s, listening the first time. Coming when called. Even if it’s super simple. Wow. Thank you for bringing your shoes to me. Thank you for, putting that in the trash or picking up your toys. We take that for granted, but if they hear those words of praise, I think they will gear their behavior in that direction.

Yeah, they will. And quickly too. I don’t think that, when we talk about our toddlers, we feel like because we’re in those weeds, it’s hard to see out. These suggestions can feel really daunting when you’re adding them up with your day to day with them. But toddlers. Wickedly smart and so resilient.

And if you just can be consistent with them for a couple of weeks, you won’t have to continue this because the behavior will go away.

Right, for sure. I think probably the last issue that at least I get a lot of questions about, especially in that toddler realm. And once we have teeth is what about that fight for brushing our teeth? Bev? Is that worth it? I’d be interested to see what you guys think as far as in your, parent coaching, behavior modification, what your take is on that or what helpful insight you have for parents? I hear this one at least once a day, to be honest, it’s a battle because we know it’s a half to, for their health and their growth and development. So. To parents, like there’s a lot of pressure to do it.

Right. And for a child that can feel forceful or demanding or lack of control or autonomy on their little life. It’s easy for them to push back and refuse to open their mouth or bite too. I like to de- descalate it. The first step would be as where are they brushing those teeth? Is it always in your room?

In your bathroom as a battle, let’s move to the other bathroom. If that’s a possibility let’s maybe switch up the toothpaste or the toothbrush for something you have in the drawer. That’s been tucked away. Let’s make it a little bit different. And then when we go into it, let that child start. Even if they just stick the toothbrush in their mouth, they did part of it. We listened. And then you can ask them if you can finish up the job and you’ll have to build that trust up with them that you’re not going to shove a toothbrush in their mouth or yank it out or anything like that. And it takes a little bit of time to practice. And eventually, hopefully by the end of the week with you not taking those reigns physically from them, they will allow you to assist them.

The other thing I think that helps a lot with toddlers is visual cues. We know that they’re visual learners throughout their day. Even if your child’s at school, they have charts and schedules and timers and all kinds of stuff like that. Lindsay and I use a lot of visual cues in our sleep routine, and I think another good one for teeth is you could get a play tooth set and a toothbrush and show them what their mouth looks like on the inside and show them how to brush and then let them practice that and master that skill when they want to on their own. Just need to get Elmo Elmo with the toothbrush and sing the song. You’re good. Take that pressure away from both of you.

And then my other big secret, and I can’t believe I’m going to share this, but I, I always tell the parents to talk to their kids about sugar bugs. And I don’t think this is very secret anymore. I’ve heard it a lot often, but basically after the kiddos eat, you can start talking about, wow, how many sugar bugs do you think are in there today?

I think there’s. I bet there’s five in there. And then you can pretend to count how many sugar bugs you see. And if there actually is a piece of food or something in there, you can, let’s chase it away and that will help them maneuver that toothbrush. And then the final check that you should be doing is okay. Let’s make sure all the sugar bugs are gone. Mom was going to check really hard tonight. Okay. And then one quick check and you’re done in and out. Right. I think you bring up some really valuable points as far as sticking with it a good four to seven days kind of makes or breaks the habit. If we’re just like it’s kind of one of those things of health and safety, we don’t get into a car without buckling up because you don’t like your car seat. We also have to brush your teeth because it can make you sick. It can make you ill not feel well, you can have pain and you can explain that to your kids in simple language for them to understand. I also think really giving that opportunity of you do it for a little bit, and then I’m going to take a turn so that child is actively involved in that process and feels a little bit more control about that.

\Go ahead, Lindsey. I was going to say, I agree with all of those things as well. And with my three-year-old right, the teeth brushing routine has been part of her bedtime routine. As a sleep specialist is very important to us, but it’s been part of her routine for so long that she’s so used to that process. And the other thing too is I allow her to pick her toothbrush every night and actually pick the toothpaste. So she has a couple of options that are either of the options or all right, right. She can say yes. And I can say yes to all of them, but there’s a little bit of ownership in that as well. Then being able to pick the toothbrush and the toothpaste. And then as you guys mentioned, she always does a little brush and allows us to do it as well.

I would agree with you get what you’re all saying. Right. I also like the idea of switch it up, give them some options, right? Different toothbrush, different toothpaste. What do you want to try tonight? It gives them a sense of ownership in that process. So that they’re not feeling like you said before, Paige, forced into this situation that they’re not necessarily comfortable with, that they do have a little bit of control about that. Yeah, that ownership piece. It’s hard to give away as a parent, but once. Do they’re a whole new kiddo, right.

I thank both of you for joining me today and talking about our terrific two year olds or year olds we’ve had some really great information on dealing with temper tantrums, as well as biting, hitting, and maybe repeated behavior that we don’t necessarily enjoy. As well as the fight to brush our teeth. I think both of you bring an excellent perspective to all of those situations, with some good tools, tips, and tricks to help us maneuver through that and know that we do have choices.

If you found the information in our podcasts this evening helpful from Paige, Lindsey and myself, you can definitely click on the link below and get ahold of us. As well as download an easy PDF of our discussion this evening. Also, if you’re interested in working with me from first breaths, first steps and coaching you and your family.

You can also click on the link provided until next time. Be well.